Supergirl: 207 “The Darkest Place” Review
Reviewed by Ben McClure.
Things on season 2 of Supergirl are moving quickly! There’s barely been time to set up storylines before they’ve begun to pay off. Sometimes, this means things happen a bit abruptly, but the benefits have been worth it. By the end of episode 7, we have pushed right past most of the story beats that we were anticipating, which is great because they’re still another 14 or 15 episodes to go, and we’re genuinely wondering what is going to happen next.
Episode 7 is called The Darkest Place and it does its best to live up to its title, without becoming so heavy that you wouldn’t want your children to watch it or anything. There are three major storylines going on, and two of them are built largely on David Harewood getting to play seriously disturbing.
Story #1 is all about Supergirl getting kidnapped by Cadmus. We learn the significant truth that Hank Henshaw, the original leader of the DEO, is still alive, but has been turned into a super-powered cyborg. It’s a great reveal. The way he is used to trick Mon-El is smart, and the battle scenes with Kara establish clearly an impressive level of muscle. Cadmus as an organization has now established itself as a serious, serious threat—far more effectively than its bad special effect cyberhacks ever did.
We are left with the question of what is going on with Jeremiah Danvers. He’s alive, he seems well and healthy, he is moving around fairly freely in the basements of Cadmus…and yet he is still on the side of the good guys? What’s really going on with the guy? Is he hiding down there? Is he a secret traitor to one side or the other? Is it even really him? Hopefully the show will resolve all this in a way that is satisfying, because right now it seems like we are being asked to accept a lot of stuff that doesn’t really make sense.
Of course, the bigger question is how long will it be before Hank Henshaw and J’onn J’onzz meet each other and have a serious smackdown? That has got to happen, and it’ll be bonus points if it’s with the increasingly crazy version of J’onn that we saw in this episode, over in Story #2 (J’onn finding out the truth about M’gann.) Some intense Harewood on Harewood combat would tax the show’s special effects capacity, but it’d be worth it for the shear craziness of it all.
J’onn is proving how dangerous he can be, and we assume that his behavior—locking away M’gann in a deep, dark dungeon—is the result of blood transfusion that is turning him into a White Martian, and not just some insane level of prejudice. We’re looking forward to J’onn trying to cover this up but failing, and losing more and more restraint and self-control until Alex, Kara and the rest of the DEO have to stop him. On another show, I’d expect that to be happening in about 3 or 4 episodes, but with Supergirl I wouldn’t be surprised if this was what happens next week! Between this and the evil Hank Henshaw gaining access to the fortress, the stakes are high for our heroes.
Story #3 is about James & Winn’s trials as the Guardian comes under fire for murder, and is the weakest of the three. It is the most routine, almost as if we needed James to be going up against some “threat of the week” since Kara was too busy to do so. The police (and newspaper) investigation around it is also pretty clumsy, with nobody questioning the obvious ambiguities of the video. At least the actual fights between James and the other vigilante is well done and provides for some fun action scenes.
In addition to all this plot, the show does not neglect to spend time with its characters, especially Mon-El and Kara as they are imprisoned together. Their growing affection is one of the most natural relationships on the show, and a romance between them seems genuinely plausible. Chris Wood and Melissa Benoist have nice chemistry together, although it’d be just as believable as a friendship as it would be anything more. Hopefully, this is one area that the show will take its time with.
With all that I liked about The Darkest Place, there are things that don’t work so well, but for the most part these are nitpicks.
- “Call me…Cyborg Superman.” I’m sorry, what? In the comics, Cyborg Superman was so called (by others) because he was a cyborg, and he looked like Superman. Here, having Hank Henshaw decide to take that name of his own accord is highly forced and artificial. What’s the point? It’s not like the name has such great marketing cred that it’s going to mean anything to anyone but serious comic readers, and we all got the reference already.
- The scenes between Alex and Maggie are like last week well-acted, but this time they are shoe-horned into the story. Kara and her friends hang out in the alien bar at the beginning for no real story reason except so that Alex can bump into Maggie. Then, Alex makes the ludicrous request to Maggie that she stop trying to arrest the Guardian (seriously, how did Alex hope to persuade her to listen?) for no reason except so that they’ll have an opportunity to argue. And then even Alex and Maggie showing up together when James is taking down the bad guy is a bit random and out of nowhere.
- Only when Maggie shows up at the end to talk to Alex is their encounter believable. But even then, it’s hard to buy it when Maggie tells her that she doesn’t want to imagine her life without Alex. That is over the top and does not feel consistent with anything we’ve seen.
- Um, Kelex the Kryptonian security droid is pretty stupid if all you have to do is smear some blood on your hand to full its sensors.
- Finally, the idea that J’onn is a victim of some biological agent which will turn him into a White Martian is a bit ludicrous. Surely if you can engineer something like that, you could just make something that would kill the Green Martians flat out? And what’s their transmission strategy? You’re going to have give everyone blood transfusions? That seems like a really inefficient way to commit genocide.
But in the end none of this matters too much because the episode overall I so full of drama and fun: J’onn is in trouble, Mon-El is falling for Kara (but he’s got a secret about Daxam that needs revealing), M’gann is locked away, the Fortress is compromised (and there’s something called Medusa that we should all be worried about), Lillian Luthor is creepy, and James & Winn continuing with their private little superhero side-business. There are lots of interesting story threads for the show to continue to pull on as we pass the season’s one third mark.